Chief curator Daniel Piazza shares intimate knowledge, little-known facts and secrets about the stories told in “Baseball: America’s Home Run,” highlighting some of the spectacular objects on display, including discussions with key lenders to the exhibition on artifacts never-before displayed for pubic view.
I'm Dan Piazza, curator of the National Postal Museum exhibition, Baseball: America's Home Run, on view until January 2025.
Join me for an inside look at some of the most exciting objects from this blockbuster show that explores America's national pastime through stamps, mail and memorabilia.
The stamp and baseball collecting communities overlap in significant ways.
Some postcards sent through the mail are recognized as legitimate baseball cards, while first day covers autographed by players have become collectible to Baseball fans.
Postal authorities all over the world market baseball stamps and postal items, and baseball souvenirs resembling postage stamps complete with collecting albums were commonly published in the 20th century.
Let's take a closer look.
Between 1905 and 1930 several publishers printed baseball cards at regulation postcard size with spaces for a message and address.
These are collected by baseball collectors and philatelists alike, though card collectors prefer mint condition and philatelists generally want cards that have been sent through the mail.
This postcard of famed pitcher Cy Young was mailed in 1908.
The Helmar brand of Turkish cigarettes included photo engraved vignettes of baseball players which they described as stamps in their 1911 packaging.
Player busts appear within a frame and their name in a scroll below very closely resembling postage of their era.
Moreover, the Helmar stamps came in little glassine envelopes marked philately.
Stamp and baseball card collecting intersected again from the 1960s through the 1980s.
Topps, Fleer and other companies began issuing baseball stamps, first by issuing them into packs of baseball cards and eventually as standalone products.
They also offered stamp albums.
For more on the intersection of postal and baseball history visit the National Postal Museum exhibition, Baseball: America's Home Run, online at postalmuseum.si.edu/baseball